Even as the Chinese pandemic COVID-19 has spread across the country in Pakistan shutting down most of the country, several mosques have remained opened across Pakistan, especially on Friday. People as usual offered prayers at these mosques despite a government ban on big congregational gatherings in order to curb the spread of coronavirus that has killed 37 people and infected nearly 2,500 others in the country.
“We don’t believe in coronavirus, we believe in Allah. Whatever happens, it is from Allah,” one Altaf Khan, an Islamabad resident believes as per AFP report. Some clerics also encouraged people to attend prayers in mosques. Another Islamabad resident said that the people go to mosque to seek help from Allah as they are scared. The officials added that it was not easy to stop people from visiting mosques unless they willingly cooperate. In fact, as late as March last week, the country’s religious scholars asked only the old and sick to avoid prayers in mosque.
According to the reports, the Sindh government had announced a curfew-like restriction from 12 noon to 3 pm to stop people from visiting mosques, while the Punjab government had issued a fatwa for people to offer prayer in their homes. Similar instructions were issued by other provinces and the federal government.
The mosques have too made announcement urging people to pray at home. However, Pakistanis have found more eagerness to defy the instructions to visit mosques.
“The government and police are making statements to create a sense of fear. Nothing will happen. Karachi is a city of 20 million, the government cannot implement its decision in every nook and cranny,” the prayer leader of the Jamia Mosque Quba said.
A heavy contingent of police and Rangers personnel were also deployed in front of the New Memon Mosque and some other areas in Karachi. In Karachi, the majority of mosques have followed government orders, however, some continued to hold regular prayers.
In other towns and cities of the province, including Sukkur, Larkana, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions, the mosques have been asked to shut while permission has been given to only four to five people, including the prayer leader to pray.
However, the lockdown has not been strictly implemented in rural areas, especially in villages. “We have offered Friday prayers in our Jamia mosque with the same crowd,” said Abdul Hanan, who lives in a village in the Kamber Shahdadkot district.
The situation in Balochistan was not much different. A big crowd came to attend Friday prayers in Qandhari mosque of provincial capital Quetta, located near a police station. In other areas of the province. Most of the mosques were open, but attendance was low.
In Punjab, mosques have made announcements requesting people to pray at homes. In cities, the orders were mostly followed but the situation in the rural areas was different as people came out in big numbers to offer prayers.
Dar ul Iftah Jamia Naeemia, an Islamic university in Lahore, issued a fatwa (religious edict) saying that people who are stopped by the government from coming to mosques were not obliged to perform the prayers in congregation.
There have been cases of confrontation between police and Muslims on the issue of going to mosques. People gathered near Ghousia Mosque in Liaquatabad area of Karachi and pelted stones at police when stopped from entering the mosque. The police said that the official vehicle of the local Station House Officer was slightly damaged in the attack.